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Lady Flames Set to Host Presbyterian, Saturday

September 21, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Lady Flames Set to Host Presbyterian, Saturday

Complete Match Notes

Liberty (3-11, 0-1 Big South) continues its three-match homestand, hosting Presbyterian (4-9, 1-0) at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames fell in four sets to High Point in their Big South opener, Tuesday, while PC scored a 3-1 win over CSU in its conference opener.

Liberty is 15-1 all-time against Presbyterian, winning the last 12 meetings in a row. The Lady Flames are 7-0 in home matches versus the Blue Hose.

Starting Rotation
1. Liberty went toe-to-toe with defending Big South tournament champion High Point on Tuesday, taking set one, 25-23, before falling in four sets. Casey Goodwin (14 kills), Anna Gragg (11) and Kainah Williams (11) all reached double-figures in kills for Liberty.

2. Junior libero Margaret Latchford collected her 1,000th career dig, Sept. 12 against VCU. She keeps climbing the ladder in program history, currently ranking 18th with 1,053 career digs. Only 16 players at Liberty have collected 1,100 or more career digs.

3. Amaya Williams dished out 42 assists on Tuesday against High Point. In four matches since taking over as starting setter, Williams has posted three 40-assist matches and two double-doubles, averaging 9.4 assists per set during that span.

4. Shane Pinder, in his 14th season as Liberty's head coach, is the program's all-time winningest coach, at 241-187. He is ranked second all-time among all Big South volleyball coaches in both overall wins and conference victories (135). 

5. Liberty's sophomore class has accounted for 51.1 percent of the team's total kills this season. In the last four matches, the sophomores have scored 120 out of Liberty's 176 total kills (68.1 percent).

6. The Lady Flames were predicted to finish third in the Big South Preseason Coaches' Poll. Additionally, senior setter Anna Willey and sophomore middle blocker Anna Gragg were voted to the Preseason All-Big South team.

7. Liberty is looking for its first win at the Vines Center since sweeping High Point, Nov. 5, 2016.

Super Sophomores
The sophomore trio of Anna Gragg, Casey Goodwin and Kainah Williams has been strong of late. Last Friday at UNCW, all three players reached double digits in kills. They did it again versus High Point on Tuesday, with Goodwin scoring 14 kills for the second match in a row and Gragg and Williams sending down 11 kills each.

Liberty's sophomore class, which also includes Hannah Morris and Payton Carter, has accounted for 68.1 percent of the team's offense in the last four matches.

Catching 1,000
Junior Margaret Latchford collected her 1,000th career dig during the first set of Liberty's match against VCU, Sept. 12. She became the 21st player in program history to record her 1,000th career dig. 

Latchford is ranked 18th in program history with 1,053 career digs, passing Cristi Cherry (1995-98) on Tuesday. Up next on the list is Leanna Miller (1994-97; 1,097 digs).

Last Friday at UNCW, Kainah Williams recorded her first career 10-kill match, with 11 kills, while Anna Gragg scored 10 kills. During set two, Williams hit 7-0-7, while Gragg hit 6-1-8.

It was the first time since Oct. 22, 2016 at Gardner-Webb (Sirena Vorster - 12 kills, Gragg - 11) that both Liberty middle blockers recorded 10+ kills in the same match.

Williams and Gragg both went for 11 kills on Tuesday against High Point.

Freshman Amaya Williams recorded a career-high 43 assists, last Saturday against Morgan State. She followed that match with 42 assists on Tuesday against High Point. Williams is the first Liberty freshman setter since Anna Willey in 2014 with back-to-back 40-assist matches.

Williams is one of three current Liberty setters with at least one career 40+-assist match. Willey has posted 28 career 40-assist matches, with a career high of 63 assists. Sophomore Hannah Morris has recorded four career 40-assist contests, with a career high of 51 assists.

Willey ranks eighth in program history with 2,437 career assists.

A year after leading the Big South with 2.45 blocks per set, Liberty has picked up its net defense where it left off, ranking second in the conference with 2.24 blocks per set.

Liberty posted a season-high 14.5 blocks vs. Hofstra on Aug. 26, and recorded back-to-back 14-block contests on Sept. 8 against Southern Utah and Air Force. On Tuesday against High Point, the Lady Flames registered their fourth 10-block match of the season.

For the season, Anna Gragg ranks third in the Big South with 1.00 blocks per set, while Casey Goodwin is 10th in the conference with 0.84 blocks per set.

On Sept. 8 against Southern Utah, Gabrielle Vess (17 kills, 12 digs), Victoria Baptista (12 kills, 16 digs) and Anna Willey (44 assists, 10 digs) all recorded double-doubles.

Amaya Williams, making her first start on Aug. 26 against Virginia, registered a double-double with 36 assists and 10 digs. She is the first Liberty freshman since Lillie Happel (Aug. 27, 2010 vs. Cleveland State) to record a double-double in her first start. Williams posted her team-leading fourth double-double of the season, Tuesday against High Point.

Senior Anna Willey is Liberty's active career leader in double-doubles with 28, including 12 double-doubles in both 2015 and 2016.

Digging Deep
On Sept. 2 against Elon, Latchford (30 digs) and Gabrielle Vess (22) became the first Liberty teammates since Caila Stapleton (25) and Gabrielle Shipe (24), Sept. 26, 2014 against Radford, with 20+ digs in the same match.

Baptista, a transfer from Panola College in Texas, became the first player since Karyl Bacon in 2007 to collect 10+ digs in each of her first three matches at Liberty.

All-Time Series: Liberty leads, 15-1 Current Streak : Liberty W12
2016 Meetings: Liberty 3, Presbyterian 0 (Nov. 4, 2016 – Lynchburg, Va.)
Liberty 3, Presbyterian 2 (Oct. 14, 2016 – Clinton, S.C.)
Last Presbyterian Win: Presbyterian 3, Liberty 2 (Nov. 8, 2008 – Clinton, S.C.)

Presbyterian (4-9, 1-0 Big South) opened up conference play with a 3-1 win over Charleston Southern on Tuesday. PC has won six out of its last seven Big South openers. For the season, PC is ranked second in the Big South with 16.21 digs per set. Both Liberty and Presbyterian have posted 3-1 wins over their only common opponent, Morgan State.

Allie Wright was named Big South Freshman of the Week on Sept. 5. She scored 17 kills in Tuesday's win over CSU, and is ranked sixth in the Big South with 3.34 points per set. Megan Jones ranks second in the Big South and 21st nationally with 0.53 aces per set, while Daley Gosnell (5.07 digs per set) is second in the conference in digs.

Series History
Liberty holds a 15-1 record in the all-time series against Presbyterian College, and the Lady Flames have won each of the last 12 meetings. The Blue Hose posted their only win over Liberty on Nov. 8, 2008 in Clinton, S.C., a 3-2 victory. Of Liberty's wins in the series, 11 have been sweeps, two in four sets and two in five sets.

2016 Series Recap
The Lady Flames rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat PC, 3-2, on Oct. 14, 2016 in Clinton, S.C. Leah Clayton totaled 17 kills and 15 digs, while Anna Gragg posted a season-high 13 kills. Martina Shamley led PC with 14 kills, while Sierra Davis had 12 kills. That win was one of five five-set victories during Liberty's eight-match winning streak last year.

Liberty then swept PC, 3-0 (25-15, 25-8, 25-19) on Senior Night, Nov. 4. The Lady Flames outhit the Blue Hose, .315-.100, led by a team-high 13 kills from Gabrielle Vess. In that match, Anna Gragg set a new program freshman record by posting her 93rd block of the season.      

Third Set is Key
Liberty and High Point played a tight third set on Tuesday, with the Lady Flames rallying to tie it at 24-24 before the Panthers scored the next two for a 26-24 win. High Point went on to win in four sets in a match that was tied at 1-1.

So far this season, the winner of set three has gone on the win the match in 13 out of Liberty's 14 contests (.928). The only time the winner of set three did not win the match was Aug. 26, when Liberty took the third set during a 3-1 setback at Virginia.

Did You Know?
This is the first time in program history that Liberty has opened Big South play with three straight home matches. By contrast, the Lady Flames have begun conference play with three or more consecutive away matches six times, including last year.